Missed the Moment

I dare say regret over the past is a string we all play on our banjos. The ride we take when we make bad choices is a ride that can roll on for a lifetime.  The most intriguing concept for me is grasping the magnitude of the regret over missing your moment. The times you failed to try or when you didn’t risk your heart being broken. It could be regret over the opportunities that knocked at your door early on but when you opened the door you stood in silence just long enough for the moment to pass you by.   Regret…that’s a really tough one for all of us to swallow.

One thing I have learned is that the great moments come without announcement. They hang low for a short time and then they are gone… the moment has passed. I reflect and recognize the moments I let pass me by. The alarming thing about regret is, when you allow it to stay too long, it can do you great harm.   Acknowledge the failure and then make a decision to move on. Don’t let that defeat define you.

I look at my life and I, like most, certainly have regret over poor choices and over missed opportunities, but on good days I can see two things that give me hope. Until Jesus takes me home I still have years out ahead of me to do the work. I can recognize opportunity now. I could give a sketch artist the details making it possible for anyone to identify it in a line up.

The second, and most important thing, is the truth that this life isn’t the end but, rather, the beginning. The real life is spent with Jesus for eternity along with all the other saints throughout the ages. There is no regret that could compare to those who miss the moment with Jesus. When you least expect it the moment will be passed…

Luke 24:13-35 is an account of two disciples after Jesus had risen from the dead. They didn’t recognize him. For all the time they had spent with Jesus it is amazing that they didn’t see Him coming. They missed the moment. They weren’t looking for Him in the ordinary. Isn’t that incredible? When He showed up they didn’t know Him! Is it possible they hadn’t really seen Him for who He really was?

“God Moments come when we are least expecting them. Don’t let the moment pass you by.”

UnknownJust Jesus,

Sheri

*(notes and quotes by Bill Langley sermon Sunday April 16, 2017)

He’s On Every Page

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Jesus is the embodiment of all the O.T. pictures and types.  In fact, you can see Him plainly in every book of the Bible.  He’s on every page.  If you’re reading your Bible and you don’t see Jesus, look again, because He’s there.

In Genesis He is our Creator.

… Exodus … our Passover and Deliverer.

… Leviticus … our High Priest.

… Numbers … our Guide.

… Deuteronomy … our True Prophet.

… Joshua … our Mighty Conqueror.

… Judges … the Lawgiver.

… Ruth … our Kinsman Redeemer.

… 1 & 2 Samuel … the Seed of King David.

… 1 & 2 Kings … the King over all kings.

… 1 & 2 Chronicles … our Ark, Temple, Salvation.

… Ezra … the One who restores.

… Nehemiah … our Mighty Wall of Defense.

… Esther … our Intercessor.

… Job … our risen Redeemer.

… Psalms … our Song and our reason to sing.

… Proverbs … our Wisdom.

… Ecclesiastes … our Purpose and reason for living.

… The Song of Solomon …altogether lovely.

… Isaiah … our Mighty Counselor, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father.

… Jeremiah … the Weeping Prophet.

… Lamentations … Ever Faithful.

… Ezekiel … our Shepherd.

… Daniel … the Ancient of Days.

… Hosea … our the One who forgives and restores.

… Joel … our Refuge.

… Amos … God’s Justice.

… Obadiah … the Destroyer of the proud.

… Jonah … our Resurrection, and the God of a 2nd chance.

… Micah … the Ruler born in Bethlehem.

… Nahum … our Avenger.

… Habakkuk … the Joy of our Salvation.

… Zephaniah … the Faithful Witness.

… Haggai … the Desire of all nations.

… Zechariah … the Humble King.

… Malachi … the Sun of Righteousness.

… Matthew … the King of the Jews.

… Mark … the Servant Leader.

… Luke … the Son of Man.

… John … the Son of God.

… Acts … the Founder of the Church.

… Romans … our Righteousness.

… 1 Corinthians … the Crucified and Resurrected Christ.

… 2 Corinthians … our Sufficiency.

… Galatians … our Freedom.

… Ephesians … our Peace.

… Philippians … our Joy and our Supplier.

… Colossians … our All in All.

… 1 Thessalonians … our Blessed Hope.

… 2 Thessalonians … the One who restrains.

… 1 Timothy … our Mediator.

… 2 Timothy … our Strength.

… Titus … our Stability.

… Philemon … our Master.

… Hebrews … our Perfect Sacrifice

… James … our Example.

… 1 Peter … the Cornerstone of our Faith.

… 2 Peter … the One who Purifies.

… 1 John … the Way.

… 2 John … the Truth.

… 3 John … the Life.

… Jude … our Cause worth Defending.

… Revelation … the Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the End;

the First and the Last; the One who Was and Is and Is To Come!

* Jesus is the Door and He’s what you find on the other side of the door.

* He’s the sum of all greatness, and the source of all grace.

That’s who He is!

 

Just Jesus,

Sheri

(taken from Bill Langley)

 

 

God Sees A King

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This is Easter week. It always makes me a little somber, which I would imagine is appropriate. We have the events leading to the cross, the crucifixion and then the resurrection. I am reminded of my unworthiness, hopelessness and my devastation without the cross. This leads me to humility and repentance for the part I played.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (I Corinthians 15:3-5) This is what we believe praise God!

Last week I was reading and writing about King David’s life in I Samuel. He was God’s man for the time. Who would have imagined out of all of Jesse’s sons that God would pick the youngest and the smallest to become the great King? But that’s how God does it…

A song from way back came to mind and I decided to write the lyrics out for you. These words encouraged me this week as I found myself feeling unworthy for the grace and mercy God has given me in my life. Dwell on the goodness of God and His great love for us this weekend.

Shepherd Boy

One by one Jesse’s sons
Stood before the prophet
Their father knew a king
Would soon be found
And each one passed
Except the last
No one thought to call him
Surely he would never
Wear a crown
But when others see a shepherd boy
God may see a king
Even though your life seems filled
With ordinary things
In just a moment He can touch you
And everything will change
When others see a shepherd boy
God may see a king

One by one problems come
And dreams get shattered
And sometimes it’s hard
To understand
But things like chance
And circumstance
They don’t really matter
Our Father holds tomorrow
In His hands

Well it wasn’t the oldest
It wasn’t the strongest
Chosen on that day
And yet the giants fell
And nations trembled
When they stood in his way

“But when others see a shepherd boy. God may see a king”…when He sees you, He sees His child that He sent His son, Jesus, to die for. He chose you, He redeemed you and changed your name- He called you forgiven.

Just Jesus,

Sheri

 

(Words and Music by Ray Boltz & Steve Millikan)

The Lion and The Bear

 

“Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!” There is no tiger in this story, like from the Wizard of Oz song, but we do have a lion and a bear, which is still quite impressive. Have you ever killed the lion and the bear? I have. I’m not a big game hunter, so, allow me to explain my meaning. It’s in the big moments that frighten and intimidate me, that cause a failure of faith. In these moments the Holy Spirit within me reminds me that I have already killed the lion and the bear. If someone asks me, “Why do you think you can do such a big thing?” My reply is, “I can do it because I have killed the lion and the bear.”

I will tell you one of my lion and bear stories. In the spring of 1981 I was finishing my 2nd semester at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. The camp called Centrifuge was just a few years old. A couple of my friends were going to work on the staff in Missouri for the summer. They told me I should apply because the person lined up to be the outdoor education staffer had dropped out. I was intrigued but terrified. After some coaxing I decided to pursue this opportunity. It was more than I thought I could do – it seemed too big.

A bit of background information might help explain why my friends even asked me to consider this position. I was pursuing a call to go into Christian ministry. I graduated from Baylor University with an education degree and emphasis in church recreation (I reread the last few words of that sentence and it sounded made up but it is true … church recreation). It was a new phase of cutting-edge ministry in the late 70’s and 80’s in an attempt to reach teenagers for the gospel (an edge that actually got dull super fast, as most edges do). Nevertheless, in addition to my education classes I took classes like sailing, canoeing, ceramics, backpacking, hiking, sports, games, camping. I learned how to do all things related to outdoor and indoor fun. (Daddy, if you are reading this, I believe it’s been long enough for you to know the truth about how the big tuition money you paid was really used.) It was fun, and I was all about fun! Life was an adventure and I was eager to jump in.

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Everyone on the Centrifuge staff had a specialty area to teach. My role for that summer was to teach ‘outdoor education.’ Each week I had 40 new students and counselors for 4 days, preparing them for the big campout trip. I would lead them on a backpacking overnight campout in the “mountains” of Missouri (in the language of the Chickasaw Indian, the word Missouri means, “a place of hot, humid, rainy conditions with large mosquitos”).

In our classes I would teach all the skills necessary to go on a successful backpacking trip. I taught them how to select the best campsite, backpack, and sleeping bag. I taught them how to pack everything, how to light a camping stove and cook a meal, how to dig a latrine, how to set up a tent, how to tie knots, how to build a campfire. I think you get the picture. I was never that good at all these skills in college, as I was much more interested in the having fun part of church recreation. The truth is, I had to get the guys on my Centrifuge staff to “reteach” me how to do all these things before I could “teach” boy scout type guys, including men, how to do this. It was extremely daunting. I certainly didn’t feel qualified to do the job.

The last portion of Sunday’s sermon was about David and Goliath, from 1 Samuel 17.   We were asked these questions, “Why is it important for me to expect the very best?” There are three answers, 1. It honors God. 2. It sharpens my focus. 3. It encourages those around me.

When David came up to the battleground to bring his big brother warriors their lunch, he heard the giant cursing his God. He looked around to see who was going after him and every soldier was silently frozen where they stood. He couldn’t believe it. I Samuel 17 tell us David asked, Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David told king Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this guy; I will go and fight him.” Can you just imagine the mocking and ridicule he received for making such a statement? The warriors possibly asked David, “What are you thinking? You aren’t wearing armor or carrying a sword. You’ve only got a slingshot. He’s too big to hit.” David replied, “No, he’s too big to miss!”

Saul basically said, “You? How? Impossible? That’s ridiculous!” David didn’t lose focus or resolve, he told Saul, “I have been keeping my father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (Exerts from I Samuel 17)

Because he had killed the lion and the bear, he knew could kill the giant!

The small teenager vs. the giant of giants … the big match … the fight of the century … much like pay-per-view boxing, it was over in 5 seconds! Unlike the usual matches, the little guy wins. Granted, cutting off the giants head and holding it up in victory isn’t our American style, but it was absolutely the way they did it then. David was showing everyone that, make no mistake, his God won this victory.

I recently told my adult daughter about my years as an outdoorsy person and she literally laughed out loud. She said, “Mom, our family has never been camping or anything of the sort.” I acknowledged this truth but told her there was a time when I was all about it. I was a backpacker in Yosemite, which, in my opinion, was the pinnacle. I told her I actually taught people how to backpack and took them on overnight campouts. She didn’t believe me.   I showed her pictures…she said, “Well, I’m glad you got that nonscience out of your system.”   I assured her that at the conclusion of that summer I packed up my camping gear for the last time.  I did enough backpacking and camping for the rest of my life. I was now more interested in hiking from the air- conditioned car to my air-conditioned resort and eat at the air-conditioned restaurant.  Nothin’ like the great indoors!

In reality the summer on staff at Centrifuge was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was forced to do things I had never done by myself; things I wasn’t sure I could do. My job was multifaceted, I prepared and taught a Bible study everyday, I led my team in winning recreational games, I sang, I acted, I spoke on stage, I counseled but, most significantly, I had the chance to talk to teenagers about Jesus everyday for an entire summer. I killed the lion and the bear that summer of ’81.

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Many summers have passed and I have killed many lions and bears. When I was faced with a challenge that seemed beyond my ability I never faced it alone. In the Holy Spirit’s power I had succeeded to the glory of God to do what was needed for that situation. Each experience reinforced this fact, “I know what God had done in the past and I know what God is going to do now. This is what happens when we live by faith and not fear. We don’t say ‘if’ we say ‘when’. ” (Bill Langley) That is when we remember that we already killed the lion and the bear. Therefore, we know we can kill a giant with one small smooth stone.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Please join me this week in reading about the life of David in I Samuel chapters 16 -17.

Have you killed the lion and the bear yet?

Just Jesus,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

Eight Years

 

Last week was our 8th anniversary as pastor and wife at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, KY.  It has been a joy and sometimes a challenge, but always a certain confidence God placed us here to do His work.  We are so thankful for the people who have stood firm with us through all the seasons these 8 years have brought.  I want to say thank you to our loving church family and precious staff who have trusted that Bill was God’s man, even when the landscape was full of shadows. It is easy to be obedient and follow when there are no storms.  The true test comes as we pass through the darkest part of the shadows.  To so many who have faithfully journeyed with us, Bill and I both say thank you and we love you.

As there are seasons in our lives, there are seasons in the life of a local church body. This happens to be a season of excitement and leaps of faith toward a wonderful future and hope for my church, SVBC. We just paid off the debt of our 10 year old facility and land.  We unanimously voted to build a new worship center and other additions.  We are on our way to raising the finances to break ground on this exciting project.  We are seeing new growth as people are being brought into the kingdom of God.  The unity and spirit of our body is healthy.  I love what God is doing in our church.  I love what he has done over the past 8 years in our church.  God has been at work to give us the right people who make up this family for such a time as this.

Sunday Bill preached a sermon on having faith over fear.  Faith isn’t a feeling. “Faith is the Confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)  Isn’t that a powerful word of truth for our lives?   II Timothy 1:12 tells us, “I Know the one I trust and I know He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.”

The law of expectation tells us we tend to get pretty much what we expect in life.  We set our own limitations!  “According to your faith it will be done for you.”  (Matthew 9:29)     

 I think we need to each ask ourselves these two questions:  (1) What are you expecting God to do in your life?  (2) What are you expecting God to do in your church?

Just Jesus,

Sheri Langley

 

 

A True Apology

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There are three examples I love from our kids’ childhood in regard to apologizing.  Our two children would go through this little singsong process they instituted for when they had a conflict.  I would say to them, “say your sorrys.” The one who did the offending would say,  “sorry,” and the other one would reply, “It’s ok.”  They would say this about three times in a row, “Sorry. It’s ok,” “Sorry. It’s ok,  “Sorry. It’s ok.” Then, as if by magic, after the third repeat, they hugged and all was well. They usually ended up laughing and then going on with their play. In truth, I preferred the response of, “I forgive you” to “it’s ok,” but you take what you can get, and I loved seeing them do this.

My grandchildren say to each other, “I’m sorry,” and then, “I forgive you.”  Or more phonetically correct to their toddler speech, “Sorwwy,” and “I forgib you.”  

When we were at Disneyworld in February, Samuel couldn’t wait to see Donald Duck.  After waiting in line, he bravely walked right up to him by himself.  Sam was holding a little Mickey Mouse spinning twirly toy.  The first thing Donald Duck did was to playfully take that toy from Sam’s little hand!  Sam was horrified and devastated all at the same time, which resulted in him bursting into tears. My daughter, Rachel, ran to pick him up and console him.  She explained Donald was just playing with him and was sorry. Donald Duck felt terrible!  He tried to hug Sam to make amends.  Sam sweetly but very reluctantly leaned in and told Donald with a tearful voice, “It’s ok. I forgib you.”

My sister in law, Leslie, taught our young children a very important distinction in the process of apologizing to each other.  As is often the case when children are little and learning to interact socially, there is bound to be conflict.  I would hear the kids say “sorry” to each other after being confronted by one of us pointing out their wrong behavior.  Leslie, in all her wisdom, would say, “Let’s put an “I” in front of the sorry.”  I’ve never forgotten that.  It truly is profound!  When you simply say “sorry,” it really says very little.  When you say, “I’m sorry,” it shows who is taking responsibility for the sorry. This is actually the most important part of the “sorry,” the accepting responsibility.  It shows you acknowledge the hurt you inflicted upon another, while also humbling yourself to admit the wrong, claiming responsibility for the hurt.

When my siblings and I were little we stayed with my grandma sometimes.  When we argued she would say, “Now I’m not going to have that fussing here.  You all love each other and shouldn’t treat each other that way.”  She continued, “You’re acting too big for your britches.” Now, do I need to go cut a switch off that tree to help you get back down to the right size?”  We quickly stood to attention and said, “No, we are back to the right size now.  No switch needed! We are sorry.”

In my opinion, selflessness, accepting responsibility, humility and repenting of pride are the key ingredients to a good apology.  So, since we have talked about what makes a good apology, let’s talk about what makes a bad apology. I like to call these “unapologies.” The first one that comes to mind is the sarcastic sounding, “sorry.” It is said with a long drawn out two-syllable question mark at the end of the word, while raising your eyebrows looking exasperated. That my friends, is an unapology.  Another classic is the disclaimer.  I recently read this in an article where a leader was “apologizing to a large group of people he had offended.  He said, “If I’ve done anything that you misinterpreted, then I apologize.”   That’s not an apology.  It is an arrogant, condescending statement made by someone who seems forced to “apologize” for something he still believes is right to people he isn’t sorry to.  There is no accepting responsibility, no humility, no repentance, therefore, no apology.

My last soapbox regarding this subject … when someone apologizes, if you don’t forgive him or her, don’t say you do.  Be a big enough person to tell the truth either way.  I hope you are challenged to join me in always giving a true apology.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother…”  (Matthew 18:15)

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;  A broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

“For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18)

 

Just Jesus,

Sheri

Christian Celebrities

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The  words Christian celebrity together seem incompatible.  But I think if we would all be completely honest, I believe we might have to admit this is what our Christian hero worship culture has created.  Through social media we might actually get them to pay attention to us. We can call them the Christian elite or the Christian celebrities … it basically means the same thing.

The in-crowd, the cool kids, the popular lunch table vs. the ordinary kids looking on from a distance. Looking in hoping to get an autograph, a wave or any scrap of recognition, maybe even a smile flashed in their direction.  Many of these people started out with the best intentions but, somewhere along the way, they switched tracks ever so slightly and ended up in a place where they became unrecognizable to the people with whom they started the journey.  People say things like, “I don’t even know who this person is anymore.”  That is a warning sign that pride might have crept in.

It isn’t totally their fault, as the Christian crowd is always looking for someone to lead them (or maybe, more accurately, tell them what to believe and think).  It began innocently enough as these Christian celebrities wrote Bible studies and books and spoke at conferences.  We all attended and even bought their stuff!  They have booking agents and charge exorbitant speaking fees for gracing smaller churches with their presence. They took positions of power and influence over students. They started churches that became their kingdom.   They believe they have the right to speak for all Christians. 

They essentially pushed their lunch tables together and filled the seats with the “A list” of Christian celebrities.  They compiled the rules for joining and, then, black-listed the “B list” who wouldn’t submit to their rules and jargon.  They told their Christian followers who were approved to follow and who were excluded. They told them which people  truly love Jesus and which don’t (because they don’t agree with the “A listers”). Then, the black-listed “B listers”celebrities and their followers were turned into a punchline by the cleverly worded tweets from the top “A list” Christian elite/ celebrity. And they all laughed and laughed and retweeted … dishonoring their position by demeaning other believers.

This isn’t a pretty picture for any of us in the kingdom.  It’s shameful and disgraces the very God we all claim to serve.  It, quite honestly, hurts the gospel of Jesus. What I see in scripture is men and women from every background, every age, every walk of life with every kind of problem and personality.  I see God creating us specifically individual to weave a lovely tapestry of color and variety being loved and used by God to His glory.  I see every generation serving Jesus together in the body of Christ.  It is a beautiful picture — His Church — multigenerational and multicultural.

The thing I love the most about our “large, rich, white Baptist church” (as some of the Christian Celebrities have unfairly deemed us), is the fact that we literally have infants to 101-years-olds, and every age in between.  We have every ethnic background, we have every socioeconomic strata represented, all worshipping and loving each other and our God.  We are a family of believers. Our church is growing and seeing lives changed and reached with the gospel, contrary to what some of your Christian celebrities may have told you.

Have you been guilty of being condescending to the so-called “large rich, white Baptist church”?  Have you judged and cast them out without knowing them? Do you just lump them all together and assume they are all the same? Do you judge them based on a past history?  Do you denigrate the work of God in these churches because your Christian celebrities (CC) unjustly labeled them racist?  They have put everyone in opposition — the older against the younger, causing divisions in the church.  This is heartbreaking to me.

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At a large conference my husband and I literally heard a famous “A list” CC husband and wife, say something to this effect as they spoke to a large group of Christian leaders,  “Our generation is here now to try and clean up the mess your generation made of the gospel.  So, since we’ve got this, you all can leave.”  To date, that is one of the most disrespectful and ungodly things I have ever heard a Christian say, although I’ve heard some other doozies as of late.

Tragic.

In this hateful political climate, have we allowed the world to seep into our theology by building Christian communities that are more concerned about political correctness than reaching the lost for Jesus? Are we so busy warring within the church that we aren’t doing the work of the church?  Have you heard yourself repeating things someone told you that you actually know nothing about?  Have you learned to study both sides of the issues for yourself?  Don’t allow anyone to use you to further his or her cause.  Turn off the noise so you can hear the truth.  Are you willing to stand up for what you know is right even if you are standing alone?

Are we more concerned with our image than our hearts? Are we trying to ‘one up’ the other cutting-edge churches on how much more cutting-edge we are then they?  Do we try to be the coolest Christians out there? Have you been guilty of being condescending to the traditional churches … casting them out without knowing them or, at the very least, basing what you know on hearsay or past experience? Do you diminish the work of God in these churches because your Christian celebrity deemed them  bigoted and calls into question the very faith of these believers?  I’m just asking…. God help us!

It is certainly something to consider.  The reason I ask and have concern is because when you roll this all back you see pride underneath, cloaked in the garb of ministry.  When someone doesn’t have room for differences, I get really nervous about this person. Pray for Christ to give you discernment to clearly see who is of God.

 

I try to learn what I can from “the Christian celebrates.”  But I also don’t take my marching orders from them and expect infallibility from them.  I worship God alone, not the ministry of a man.  I do believe it is true God has raised up certain men and women to spread His gospel and we need to pray they will not be careless with this task.  I look for authenticity in every person who shoulders the responsibility of teaching others… “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)

The main thing I look for is humility.  In my opinion, that is the true test.  

I will continue down this road in my next post but focusing on the topic of apologizing correctly according to God’s word.

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”  (Romans 12:16)

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

Just Jesus,                        images-4

Sheri